The Lebanon Area Fair will come “roaring back” after a disappointing event last year.
Organizers of the annual event aren’t letting the limitations of 2020 get in the way of hosting a big event this year for everyone who missed the popular event and is eager to indulge in a little wholesome excitement.
“We are business as usual,” Dan Siegel, chairman of the Lebanon Area Fair Board, said proudly.
The 2021 fair runs July 24-31 at the Lebanon Valley Exposition Center and Fairgrounds at 80 Rocherty Road.
It follows a year during which, because of an ongoing pandemic, most fairground activities had to be cancelled or sharply curtailed.
The modified fair in 2020, which reflected the limited ability to congregate during the height of COVID-19 restrictions, “was a tremendous feat in the sense that we succeeded in achieving all that we set out to do,” Siegel said. “It was not the usual social event that everyone knows and loves, but it was a lot better than curling up in a ball and declaring defeat.”
During the course of the week, he said, “we hosted shows and judged exhibits for over 1,300 youth entries.
“All but one of our sponsors let us keep their sponsorship dollars and we were able to waive entry fees for the youth exhibitors and still pay premiums,” he added. “We had our usual ham and chicken barbecues in a completely drive-thru format and we were able to have a light Midway for the general public to get their fix of fair food,” including soft pretzels, funnel cakes, cotton candy and, of course, the traditional Lebanon County Dairy Promotion milkshakes.
Planning for the 2021 fair began in August last year, as the Fair Board noted in a letter published Aug. 11 in LebTown. In fact, Siegel said, people were asking at the 2020 fair what they could expect in 2021.
“It was a stark reminder of the number of people in the community who our Fair touches in some way, shape or form,” he said.
Siegel told LebTown this week that the board’s approach since then “was to plan for a complete return to normalcy.”
That means everything from food to music, from baking competitions and the crowning of the fair queen to a visit by the Lebanon County dairy princess and, of course, a variety of track events. (See a full schedule of events here.)
“We could pull back if we needed to at any time, but it would be a lot harder to ramp up if we were locked into something small,” he said. “I asked all committee chairs to hang back on spending money or putting down nonrefundable security deposits for as long as possible given the uncertainties caused by COVID. At the same time though, we needed to be ready for the biggest fair ever.
“It is an approach that I am very glad that we took because all indications are that we are going to come roaring back. The public interest in our event has been crazy.”
That said, Siegel asked fair patrons to be mindful that COVID-19 still exists, and precautions still are necessary.
“We are business as usual, but we are asking for people to be courteous of others,” he said. “With the advent of the vaccine, this has very much become an issue that revolves around personal choice, personal responsibility, and courtesy to others. We have always been very vigilant about having hand sanitation stations available and frequently cleaning high touch surfaces and restrooms and we plan to continue that.”
Also, he noted, “our admissions process has been completely redesigned.” That means people can buy tickets online from the comfort of their homes or even as a passenger in a car en route to the fairgrounds.
“You can even buy your tickets in the parking lot,” he said. “Those who would prefer to pay cash can still do so, but the online ticketing option will give fairgoers an express entry into the fairgrounds.
“We are actually going to have a separate entry lane so that our pre-purchased ticketholders can skip the ticket lines at all three of our gates,” he added. “They will be able to walk up with their ticket on paper or on their phone and get scanned upon entry. Track tickets will be the same way.”
For more information, visit the event page at lebanonareafair.com.
“It is all part of our efforts to make our Fair a convenient place to go and an enjoyable experience for everyone attending,” Siegel said.
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